I read a lot and did my homework and washed my mother’s Waterford crystal and was a good little girl.
I grew up in Europe. I was surrounded by history and amazing old buildings and amazing older people who told amazing stories about the old stuff around them.
I like old stuff.
Since I’ve always liked ‘older,’ I’ve always read older. I preferred reading about characters older than me, even back when I was 10. Heroines in romance were always older than me, but then as I, ahem, matured, I noticed the heroines were young and stayed young. No one really grew up. This confused me. In a genre that infuses real life issues into the fantasy of falling in love, where were the romantic leads who had emotional baggage, who’d been divorced or widowed, who’d put careers first and found they were alone at 40 or 50? Where were these stories? I wanted to read ’em, but couldn’t find more than a handful, and I wasn’t interested in Women’s Fiction. I wanted romance.
Time and again I’ve heard authors and editors say, “write the book you want to read.” That’s exactly what I’ve done with my novels. I couldn’t find what I was looking for often enough, so I had to undertake a little DIY.
I also undertook a PhD in romance fiction. My dissertation, titled Cougars, Grannies, Evil Stepmothers, and Menopausal Hot Flashers: Roles, Representations of Age, and the Non-traditional Romance Heroine, examined stereotypes of older women, the lack of women over 40 as heroines in romance fiction, and the reasons why this older, non-tradtional romance heroine appears in romance fiction. If you’re really keen, you can find my academic paper here. The companion piece to the academic work was my novel For Your Eyes Only.
My favourite authors come from a variety of genres. I am quite partial to James Thurber; I think he’s responsible for my love of oddball comedy (How can you not LOVE The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and all it’s given us?). I dig Elmore Leonard–he’s a master of characterisation, conversation, and comedy–from Westerns like Three-Ten to Yuma, to crime-comedy Get Shorty. I inhaled all of Alistair MacLean’s thrillers from a young age, which means any time Where Eagles Dare comes on TV I HAVE to watch, regardless that I have it on DVD. Then there’s Daphne DuMaurier. If she wrote it, i read it. Why, yes. How did you know? I am the proud owner of a first edition of Rebecca.
For romance, I positively adore Jo Goodman (is there nothing she can’t do?), Susan Elizabeth Phillips (she once told me my voice sounded like a squirrel), Elizabeth Lowell, Julie James, Susan Donovan, Rachel Gibson, Loretta Chase, Laura Kinsale, Jennifer Crusie, Suzanne Brockmann and still more.
The three books I have to say are tops for me are Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, DuMaurier’s Rebecca, and A. E. Hotcher’s King of the Hill–his gem of a memoir of growing up during the Great Depression. I’ve read these books over and over again.
Gee, look. I like old stuff.
I also have deep abiding love for coffee, rat terriers, peanut butter, and cookies. Plus, I am a strong advocate for Eating Breakfast, the most important meal of the day.
I come from the land Down Under, but I do not eat Vegemite nor do I drink beer. I drive a little Italian car and live in a little house. I love little dogs, and I miss my Budman, my little, peanut butter-loving rat terrier who wanted to be me (hence the blonde, bespectacled dog avatar you see on social media). I am married to a big, bearded Sicilian, who is the moon and stars above my head and earth beneath my feet.